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Keep crops at peak performance

Игорь Салов/Getty Images Young crops emerging in field
STAY CONSISTENT: Bridgette Readel of Ag Mafia LLC advises growers that no matter the method used, they should stay consistent across all their acres.
Ag Mafia Alley: Expert Bridgette Readel gives producers tips on ensuring crop success.

As you read this, we are wrapping up spring planting in the very wet regions of the Northern Plains. It’s been a big hurdle to #Plant22. Now that the crop is in the ground wherever possible, let’s not forgot the basics of keeping your crop at peak performance.

Whether it’s yourself, your crop consultant or your agronomist, are stand counts being evaluated? You have already focused on plant populations. Now, take that next step to be sure you’re seeing emergence as you desire. Determine your favorite method and stick with it. No matter if it’s a hula hoop, a count per foot of row, or however you look at, be consistent across your acres.

Early-season weed control

This is an area where the three of us will preach the good word about early-season weed control. It is vital to the success of your crop, particularly in soybeans. With prevalent drought conditions in 2021, many acres lost the battle against kochia, waterhemp and even the most dreaded villain of them all, Palmer amaranth.

We simply cannot ignore the massive amount of weed seed now in our soils for years to come, and we must be diligent in our practices to reduce its effects on yield. Sugarbeet growers will tell you that if they miss the window to control weeds early, it is an unrecoverable situation, and none of us want that scenario.

The Ag Mafia has a “hit” out for taking kochia down for 2022. We will not allow it to muscle in on our crop’s turf. We’re putting out a hit with flumioxian, sulfentrozone and metribuzin. Follow those weeds down a dark alley with metolachlor or your favorite layered residual. Bring out the big guns for in-season control.

Supply chain hang-ups have made it very difficult to find an abundance of post-applied products such as glufosinate, but as our planting challenges continue, we may see product availability increase. Continue to talk with your supplier in order to make appropriate purchases when possible.

If you have an early harvested crop such as wheat or barley that leaves the field with a lot of growing season left in the fall, don’t shy away from treating your stubble for new emerging weeds such as late-season kochia or waterhemp. Make sure to continue your stake out into spring so pre-seed burndowns are done in a timely and lethal fashion.

Input costs are high but so are the stakes when we lose yield to weeds. In 2020, you likely spent $50 per acre for weed control in soybeans. We’re now looking at $80 per acre or higher, depending on the weed spectrum you have found in your fields with diligent scouting.

North Dakota has confirmed Group 14 mode of action resistance to waterhemp in seven counties. These likely are not the only counties where this resistance will be found. This resistance leads us to having to use not only preemergence herbicides, but also a layered residual in a crop, followed by our postemergent applications.

Bringing four to five modes of action — and not just different product brand names — to the field matters a tremendous amount. Again, we cannot let the weeds win the war against our crop; instead, determine your battle plan, have a contingency plan for the unexpected and execute. Death to weeds is our goal!

We welcome your comments, thoughts and questions at

Readel writes from Hunter, N.D., and is one-third of Ag Mafia, a private agriculture business and agronomy consulting company covering North Dakota, portions of South Dakota, Minnesota and Montana. The rest of Ag Mafia is made up of Jason Hanson and Kyle Okke, and the trio has a combined 75 years of experience in agronomy and sales. Their column focuses on timely in-field topics, answers technical questions and offers tips for succeeding on your farm or retail operation.
TAGS: Weeds
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